The end for Hanlon
The writing was certainly on the wall for this one, with the Capitals in the NHL's basement.
Here was On Frozen Blog last night, after another ugly loss:
Glen Hanlon did an admirable job in his first few years. Cleaning up after the roster-gutting and the Butch Cassidy disaster, he forged a hard-working if under-talented team into a tough group. George McPhee has had his share of blunders (e.g., questionable draft picks; Trevor Linden; Robert Lang) and his share of coups (e.g., Oates to Philly for way more than he was worth; Milan Jurcina).The answer, as it always unfortunately is in hockey, is that the GM gets his token firing, one last Hail Mary move to try and save his job.
So who, OFB readers, is the source of the team’s current woes: the Coach, the GM, or both?
George McPhee has been with the Capitals for a decade, and is ingrained in the organization as its alternate governor and vice-president. The team has had some success under his stewardship, including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in his first season, but this year was supposed to be the beginning of the team's rise from the ashes.
Hanlon is an incredibly popular fellow in the NHL, and in Washington, and I don't think he'll have a problem finding employment as an assistant coach. His only head coaching gig amounted to putting the pieces together after a nasty firesale in 2003-04, and I honestly don't think there is the talent in D.C. for that team to be a playoff contender.
That's not the coach's doing, but so it goes.
I had a chance to meet owner Ted Leonsis briefly in Washington, and he did more than enough in that short time to convince me that his involvement in the league is a huge positive for the NHL. He thinks differently, he works hard, and most importantly, he's the biggest Capitals fan on the planet.
It's unfortunate that, despite his best efforts, the team continues to struggle, but the old adage about nice guys seems to apply. What's fair doesn't, not in professional sports, not when there are 29 other teams trying to keep you in the basement, and I think it's still going to be a long climb from there.
Alex Ovechkin isn't going to play for a loser for long, and Washington's unfortunately going to have to pony up big time to keep him in the fold.
More tough decisions are on the way.